The 6 Month Inventory

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Back to school time is here for many of us. This time of year always lends itself well to goal-setting and thinking about what we want the next nine months to look like, and what outcomes we’d like to see at the end of them.

I like to use a quick, effective tool to help me plan ahead–the six month inventory.

I first heard of the six month inventory in the book Leadership Education, one of my earliest homeschooling reads (and one that I can’t recommend highly enough). I completed my first inventory this past spring when I attended my annual homeschooling conference.

To create one, I took a small sheet of paper and wrote one of my children’s names at the top. I stopped for a few minutes to consider that child and what he or she most needs from me to learn, love, and grow over the next six months. In brainstorming mode, without overanalyzing, I wrote down all the thoughts and ideas that came to mind. Then I began a new list for the next child until Trishna, Jonathan, and Elijah each had their own.

Here are some of the bulletpoints that made it on the inventory for my kids:

  • Riding bike without training wheels
  • Needs extra time with Dad in the evenings
  • Use of lowercase alphabet in handwriting
  • Continued independent reading practice
  • Work on writing his name
  • Give backrubs each night before bed
  • Practice with tracing letters

Notice how the inventory not only includes academics, but also thoughts about other aspects of life. Homeschooling parents know very well that the line between learning and living gets beautifully fuzzy–your goals can and should reflect this.

Oliver and Rachel DeMille, authors of Leadership Education and founders of Thomas Jefferson Education, suggest asking the following questions when creating a six month inventory:

  • What are this child’s biggest interests?
  • What are his/her greatest fears?
  • What are his/her fondest dreams?
  • What are his/her top needs in the next six months?
  • What should I do to help fulfill those needs?
  • What else do I need to know?
  • What else should I do?

I also made an inventory for myself–highlighting what I wanted and needed to focus on over the next six months. It included items like learning Italian, praising my children just for who they are, and getting more sleep (every mother’s goal!).

Something magical happens when we get specific and intentional enough to commit goals and thoughts to paper. Within just a couple of weeks of making my lists, I found that some of the objectives had already been accomplished! Six months is the perfect amount of time to plan for–short enough to be concrete, but long enough to allow time for growth.

Taking a six month inventory helps me remember what I can do as a parent and mentor to guide and support my children’s education. Long-term goals sometimes seem fuzzy and abstract; seeing them in black and white makes them more concrete.

As the DeMilles write in their book:

We are interested in the education of the leaders of the future, and they live in your homes. Your children deserve it–they were born with important, world-shaping and universe-shifting missions.”

What method do you use to keep track of learning goals for yourself and your children?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Thank you! I needed this guidance. I try to do this at the beginning of each year, but I often forget about it. Your right, really, it needs to be checked/done every 4-6 months to make sure we are staying on track.
    Monica’s latest post: Back-To-School? Yes and No…

  2. I think I will take each of my girls out to lunch separately and include them in the discussion of these seven things.
    Vanessa’s latest post: A Day in Our Life

  3. What a thought provoking post! I am a list maker, so am constantly writing down goals for MYSELF, not so much for my babes. I like the idea of answering the questions as well. Definitely will be making my list for rest time activities 🙂
    Heather’s latest post: weekend

  4. thank you, jamie! i needed this concrete encouragement today!

  5. Jamie,

    I have a notebook for each child that I keep throughout the year. I don’t plan for six months at a time, but rather each day as thoughts come to me, I’ll write them down. Then I usually look over the notebook each week and see if there’s any books, games or other resources I could check out and buy, or if there’s any place or experience we could have to reach those goals.

  6. Good luck on that bike business. Mine have never learned without training wheels (and have shown no interest, even after repeated tries).
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Boys and Books

    • Actually that was the easiest one to check off! We’ve used a trick I learned from Jessica (below)–which is to take the training wheels and the pedals off at the same time. The kids learn to use the bike as a balance bike (scooting around on it like a scooter).

      Once they have that part down, you put the pedals back on and they immediately ride off in the sunset! So easy, and no running behind for weeks!

    • My boys took a while to learn how to ride their bikes (just about did me in because mom and dad are AVID bike riders). My daughter (youngest child) on the other hand taught herself how to ride in one afternoon without any help from mom and dad.

  7. Love this idea! This is a great thing to add to our portfolios/cum files

  8. This is an awesome idea. And I love that it is not all about academics. Even though we call it homeschooling, we are truly LIFEschooling and as such we should keep our pulse on what next things our kids need to learn. And some of the most important things don’t come from curriculum.
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: 7 things you should have done last night

  9. I love the list of questions! My homeschoolers are still pretty small, so I am looking for ideas to balance structure with unschooling, tracking with believing they will do fine no matter what, and all those other things we have to think about. I will certainly be using some of these questions while we get ready for something kindergarten-ish.

  10. Thank you for this great advice, Jamie! I’m beginning homeschooling for the very first time this year with my 4 year old daughter and I know that both she, my two year old, and myself will benefit greatly from getting focused. I am so enjoying having you and the rest of the contributors for simplehomeschool as a resource as we begin this new journey!!

  11. I am going to work on these questions with the family

    Thanks for the guidance
    priest’s wife’s latest post: You Know You’re a Priest’s Wife When….

  12. jamie i like that you puts goals for six mounth ahed must of us not doing tahts but its a graet way to see advance graet post
    michel’s latest post: Looking For Used Camping Gear? – Things You Need To Bring

  13. In all my years of homeschooling I have never heard of this method or their books. This sounds very interesting. I at least printed off their questions and will look at them for each of my children. I wish I would have thought of this years ago.
    Heidi’s latest post: Preschool Ideas for Homeschoolers and Parents

  14. Hi Jamie, thanks for the great guidance you have shared us, this is a additional knowledge..
    Sarah’s latest post: Chamonix Accommodation

  15. Hi,

    It really make me think on how a good mother I am to my kids. I’ll copy your questions and I’ll try to answer these one-by-one. Thanks for your brilliant ideas. 🙂
    Hanni’s latest post: How To Lose Weight in a Healthy Way

  16. FANTASTIC article! I really, really need to do something like this. Thank you!

    PS: Is it just me, or does the photo look like a picture of printouts from Facebook? LOL!
    Grace’s latest post: A week in the life : Friday

  17. Heather S. says:

    Goal-setting is another important life-skill (like financial education) that is critical for not simply living in the real world, but thriving in it as an adult! Thank you, Jamie, for this valid & base-building post!

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